Daibutsu

(9 May 05)

Those carefully closed eyes – you can almost hear his measured breath
Count to ten, very slowly, to let the moment pass
  I am here, but not
     here.
Those markers the children used to decorate the front hallway –
   they are not permanent.
No more than anything else in this world
Count to ten again.
Slowly.

(Had a great day today. Caught a train down to Kamakura, an old seaside town that was the first beachhead of Buddhism in Japan. Dozens of grand,  ancient wooden temples built into the hillside, hidden in the trees. My favorite was that Zenarai Benten temple, a hybrid shinto temple to the goddess of music, eloquence and the arts. The temple itself is in its own hidden valley cleft in the mountainside. To get to it, you go through a stone arch that guards a tunnel hewn 40 feet or so through the rock, emerging into sunlight and incense.

I also spent some time looking at the Kamakura Daibutsu, a massive Buddha that dates from the 13th century. Looking at that face, I recognized in the passive, infinitely patient expression something that, before I was a parent, I never would have noticed: The Buddha was having a “Calgon” moment. This poem is in honor of the observation)

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